For the second time in the space of a month, Gabriel Zakuani was left to reflect on the sometimes harsh realities of sport after his reunion with former employers Peterborough once again ended in demoralising fashion.
Following October’s 3-0 defeat at the ABAX Stadium, Northampton again came toe-to-toe with their closest rivals on Saturday but revenge eluded them despite a vastly improved performance.
Instead, just like last month, it was a day to forget as Chris Forrester nodded in a 92nd minute winner to break Northampton hearts and spark wild scenes of celebration in the away end.
Though not quite as humbling as the reverse fixture, the manner of Saturday’s defeat hurt even more for Zakuani, who took little consolation from his side’s improved display.
“I’m gutted,” he said. “It’s a sickener to lose it in the last 30 seconds.
“I thought we had more than enough chances and we played well and they never looked like scoring.
“It always hurts to lose in that fashion but it makes it a little be worse with it being a derby game.
“We owed them one from the last game but it’s one of those and now we have to move on quickly.”
What made the defeat even more frustrating was the nature of Peterborough’s winner, with Chris Forrester afforded the freedom of Sixfields to head home in the second minute of stoppage-time.
“We could easily have dealt with it,” admitted Zakuani. “Maybe the goalkeeper could come out and we can point fingers here and there but I think it’s one of those where I can’t see blame.
It’s a cruel league this one. You switch off for one second and you get punished and we just have to learn from it and make sure we bounce back quickly.
“I felt we held a good line and we’ll have to look at it again. You expect to deal with it with the ball so high and it being so close to the goal.
“I thought we defended very well apart from that. We had a good shape and they didn’t really look like breaking us down.
“It’s a cruel league this one. You switch off for one second and you get punished and we just have to learn from it and make sure we bounce back quickly.”
Returning from international duty, Zakuani had to make do with a place on the bench for the visit of United but an early injury to Zander Diamond saw him quickly enter the fray.
He added: “Zander has done well but I was happy to come on and I was happy with my performance as well.
“There’s three very good defenders and there’s also Rod (McDonald) who’s struggling to get in the team so there’s four strong players for two spots.
“We’ve got to pick ourselves up quickly because we’ve got a big game on Tuesday so we have to get morale back up straight away and forget about this one.
“It’s perfect to have a game straight away and it’s a big week for us.
“We’re playing two big clubs and we’ve got to send out some sort of statement by getting something on Tuesday and then we’ve got another big game against a big club at home this week.”